Sometimes a lowly functional product impresses just as much as an expensive Guerlain. OK – maybe not everybody. But after an interview in which Guerlain’s in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser, admitted that he admired the functional perfumers because of the quality of their work and the difficulty of their task, I didn’t feel so bad about loving things like febreze, or the handsoap in the bathroom near the help desk at work. If Wasser can admire those who do miracles with fractional palettes, useless viscosities, and eye-popping pH values, then so can I.
Still, it’s not every day that a functional product wows me. Several months generally go by between those wonderful moments when I discover Hermès pleasure in a Target product.
Tonight I had one of those moments.
If you’re a dog owner like me, then you’ve probably been through an assortment of dog shampoos. Sadly, these things are almost always a curse and an abomination to the enlightened nose. Take your average vanilla dog shampoo. We’re not talking Spiritueuse Double Vanille, with notes of “vanilla, benzoin, frankincense, spices, cedar, pink pepper, bergamot, Bulgarian rose and ylang-ylang”. We’re talking glycol distearate with notes of “Fragrance”.
As a fragrance lover, you’ve surely sniffed these things in the store – perhaps when nobody was looking – and have discovered how paltry the pickings are. Even if you found something that smelled “OK”, the buyer’s remorse is likely to exceed even that for the celebrity scent that you bought at Macy’s. Whatever fragrance overcomes the smell of 5 tons of dog food in the store, will smell exactly the same in your house, which does not have 5 tons of dog food, by the laws of both conservation of mass, and conservation of unintended consequences.
So – imagine my surprise when I got that “OMG – which of my favorite fragrances is THAT?” feeling as I was washing the dog tonight. As the notes kept coming, the fragrances kept rolling. Tokyo by Kenzo. John Varvatos Artisan. Guerlain Homme and Cologne du Parfumeur. And a few things that I simply couldn’t place, but knew I liked.
Bottom line – subtle, balanced complexity. I was impressed.
Too many dog shampoos simply try to do too much. They take what would smell great on somebody’s hair, and crank up the dial to 11, hoping to last a bit on Rover. I recall one vanilla dog shampoo that put me off vanilla until about a year after I finished the bottle. The only thing which smelled more like vanilla – and which actually smelled better – was pure vanillin, in an old brown jar in the laboratory.
Anyway, I needed to rave. So here you go. Top Paw™ Oatmeal Baking Soda Shampoo with Fresh Breeze scent. Made in China. Not only does it smell good, but it distributes easily, lathers up quickly with minimal elbow grease, removes dirt and doggie odors, and seems to be non-irritating to the dog – both internally and externally. Forget the price – whatever it is, it’s still highly economical in the big jug.
The subtle smell is not only good for me – it’s good for the dog. She generally hates smelling good to humans, so any kind of strong scent does NOT make her happy. In contrast, I find that she’s generally very happy after a bath in this stuff.
Somewhere, out there, is the perfumer who made this stuff. Maybe she’s some woman in China, working at a small company, who dreams of making a world-renowned perfume – the next Chanel no. 5. She dreams of being admired as a classical perfumer, only to be admired by the dorky guy from IT who fixes her computer when it freezes up periodically. Well, sister – brother – whoever you are. I’ve got news for you. I admire your work.
And even though he never smelled it – so does Thierry Wasser.